Imagine the most land animals you’ve ever seen making their way across the Serengeti. Wildebeests, zebras and lions. All of them moving with each other – following their natural food source in a great circle mirroring that of the circle of life.
This is the Great Migration – also known as the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration. Millions of animals make their way through the Serengeti, Tanzania, and Kenya. It is, without a doubt, one of the most spectacular natural phenomena to see in the entire world, and here is exactly how you can see it for yourself.
The Great Migration – also known as the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration – is the constant movement of over 1.4 million wildebeest in the Serengeti. It follows a roughly circular path, based on where the food is most plentiful and the herd receives the most sustenance. Despite this, every year it never really diverges from its set direction and will always end up back at the start.
The Great Migration starts in January when the wildebeest and zebra give birth to their young. They move across the Serengeti, where the short grass makes it easier for them to look after their young. However, once the rains of the season are finished, they move north and westwards, towards Masai Mara in Kenya. The herds will have to cross crocodile-infested water to make it here, but by the summer, almost all of them will have completed the crossing. During winter, the process once again repeats and the group returns to the Serengeti in their constant search for food.
The Great Migration is the largest movement of land animals on the planet – meaning that there is a lot to see. That includes the 1.4 million wildebeest which will make their way across the land. Joining them are hundreds of thousands of Zebras. If you’re on a good safari, your attention will be drawn to the fact that Zebras are capable of finding water very easily. In fact, without Zebras, it’s unlikely that great migration would even be possible.
Of course, as with any migration, there are predators. During the mass exodus, there are several points at which the herd comes under attack. Depending on where you’ll see the Great Migration from, you’ll spot one of many different predators. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, crocodiles, and even elephants can all be a danger to the herd.
The Great Migration takes place all year, but it’s best to catch it during the change of seasons. This is when you’ll be able to see the animals actually moving and making their way between the Serengeti and through Kenya.
A good reason to throw yourself into the migration during January is that this is when the birthing cycle takes place. One of the reasons why the great migration takes place in the first place – to find food and safety for the wildebeest’s young.
Read about the wildebeest migration pattern (When and Where) by Jewel Safaris Uganda.
Alternatively, if you want to see the other side of the circle of life, you can head to the border of Kenya during the summer as the herds begin to cross the crocodile-infested waters. However, wherever you witness the Great Migration from, there is always drama and something to see. Both sad and happy.
You can see the great migration in a large part of Tanzania and part of Kenya. Where exactly all depends on the time of year.
That being said, one of the best spots for spotting the migrating herds is in Kenya during September and October. This is where a large number of different agencies for signing up for a safari can be found. If you want something a little quieter, then the south-eastern edge of the Serengeti is also a good choice during February.
The best way to see the Serengeti wildebeest migration is from the safety of a safari truck. This also makes moving between different ‘groups’ in the herd easier. Obviously, the several million animals which are part of the great migration do not move at the same time. Instead, the animals tend to split into groups, each of which gives the others a wide berth. This means that if you pick the wrong safari, you can end up driving around for a long time seeing nothing. Make sure to check reviews and feedback from people who have used safaris in the past. This will let you know which one to pick.
Another way of catching the herd in migration is by taking a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti. This has to be one of the coolest ways of witnesses the herd and gives you a much bigger viewing lens than if you were on the ground. Not only that, but the viewing lens shows the Serengeti landscape in all its splendor – especially if you go once the sun has started to set. There’s nothing quite like witnessing the sunset over the Serengeti.
One of the things at the top of my bucket list is to complete an African Safari (it’s number 34). In 2018 I’ll be doing just that, and I highly recommend you to do the same. An African Safari is one of the most incredible displays of life, death, and nature which the world sees. It’s up there with the Great Sardine Run of South Africa.
Just make sure that you find the right safari for you. Each of them is different – especially if you head out to see the Serengeti wildebeest migration. If you head out with an inexperienced or cheap safari group, you might not even end up seeing a lot of the herd. As long as you get everything sorted and organized properly, your journey into Africa will be one you won’t ever forget. The Great Migration is waiting for you, adventurer.
Would you like to join the Great Migration in Tanzania?